Study: Solyndra bankruptcy doesn’t hurt opinions of solar

Study: Solyndra bankruptcy doesn’t hurt opinions of solar A recent poll by two polling companies, one Democrat, one republican, found that twice as many U.S. citizens favor solar and clean energy than those who don’t. That’s despite the recent Solyndra bankruptcy filing, which could cost taxpayers up to $535 million through the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office.

Solyndra filed for bankruptcy on Aug. 31 of this year despite receiving a DOE loan, prompting many in D.C., to ask why the Department gave money to a failing company.

But the poll found that 62 percent of U.S. residents favored investments in clean energy that led to jobs, while only 31 percent thought that such an investment was a waste of taxpayer money.

“The fact that [the result] was so supportive was a slight surprise,” said David Metz of Democrat polester Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3).

Metz’s group conducted the poll with Republican pollster Public Opinion Strategies.

“We were doing some other research and this came up,” Metz said.

The companies work independently on many issues, but work together on some like clean energy. In this case, they were conducting a poll on behalf of a coalition of clean energy groups in Ohio.

“We put it on the poll at our own expense and since [Solyndra] had just broken,” he said.

Ohio was also chosen because it’s regarded as a bellwether state with a swing vote.

“I think we didn’t really know what to expect. It’s such a new issue and became such a political football,” Metz said.

The pollsters weren’t sure if the voting public would look at the Solyndra bankruptcy as a bad sign for the whole solar industry, or as just one bad company that was an isolated case, he said. It turned out to be the latter.

Overall, 49 percent of Republican respondents said they were in favor of continued investments in solar, but only 43 percent said they opposed such investments.

Among Republican women (56 percent) and those that did not identify with the Tea Party movement (63 percent), the poll showed support for increased investment in solar.

Among Democrats, 77 percent favored continued investment while only 18 percent opposed it.

The poll and some other research Metz conducted in California showed that Solyndra or other investments in solar might not be a good topic to run on, despite the media hype. “Just because it became an intensely polarized bubble at least in Washington, D.C., we didn’t know if voters were going to view it that way,” he said.

Image courtesy or NREL.